For Thomas Grosh of Lititz, it all started with “Ahab the Arab,” the 1962 hit by Ray Stevens.

“When I was in second grade, I found that record in the hallway and was told that by the end of the year, if no one had claimed it, it was mine,” Grosh recalls.

Fortunately for him, no one did, and with that very first record, he began a lifelong love of record collecting that continues to this day.

“My grandfather used to take me to stores to buy records with my allowance that I saved,” he said.  

Grosh remembers going to Nichols and Two Guys and making trips to Ephrata and downtown Lancaster to shop. He always had an eye for the unusual, though.

“In my college years, artists began to release picture discs and colored vinyl, and it really started to catch on. I thought, ‘This is going to be collectible someday,’” he said.

Grosh began visiting record shows and enjoyed checking out the big shows in larger cities like New York. Before long, he decided to start his own business and attend shows himself, selling high-quality collectible items.

“People would come up and say, ‘You have some really good stuff, some really British stuff — what is the name of your company?’” he said. “So my buddy and I came up with the name ‘Very English and Rolling Stone’ in part because of my love of the Beatles, Rolling Stones, and other British rock legends of the ’60s.”

Grosh and many of his colleagues in the business often traveled to Baltimore for shows sponsored by record-collecting groups in that area, and they found that “there were more of us from Pennsylvania going down there than there were people from the Baltimore clubs.”

So in 1979, they decided to form their own organization, calling themselves the Keystone Record Collectors.

“We’re still going strong, selling at shows. We’re at Spooky Nook Lanco every second Sunday,” Grosh, who also served as past president, said. “We’re really seeing a resurging interest in collectible vinyl, and I hope it lasts.”

Today, his company boasts an extensive website ( listing their inventory and offer in-person sales at record shows. In addition to records, they also offer “very-good-plus” to mint-condition collectible items, including tour itineraries, programs, and tickets.

“We specialize in collectible records; that’s kind of how our niche began,” he said. “Color vinyl promotional things, things that are hard to get a hold of — we have probably 5,000-10,000 items available.”

Music has always been a part of his life, Grosh said.

“I grew up listening to the radio, but for a long time, we only had AM radio. When they added FM, that was great because it was an opportunity to listen to more kinds of music.”

Grosh enjoys playing the guitar and has followed many local bands, collecting their records. His personal taste in music leans toward rock and the blues, anything from the 1950s up through present day.

“But I enjoy collecting and selling from all genres, not just focusing on my personal preferences,” he said. “If you only sold what you liked, you would have a limited selection to offer your customer.”

Grosh has had the pleasure of meeting some of the biggest names in the industry, including Bill Wyman of the Rolling Stones, Bo Diddley, and David Lee Roth. He very much enjoys personal interactions, he said, whether speaking with legends of the music industry or with his customers.

Having spent many years working at Doneckers in Ephrata as a salesperson, Grosh learned there is nothing like face-to-face interaction to give that personal touch.

“Today, this business of buying and selling can be so impersonal — you just sit down with your phone or laptop and start searching for what you want, but I prefer dealing with people in person,” he said.

“Customers will say to me, ‘Here’s what I’m looking for,’ and I’ll do my best to find it for them. You keep your eyes open, you check all your sources — there are a lot of good auction houses I use to look for specific items …

“It is a lot of fun for me to see how excited a customer gets when I find something for them that they’ve been looking for.”

Grosh has had people contact him who want to sell their collections successfully, and it is his pleasure to help them achieve that goal.

“Sometimes people, as they’re getting older, decide they want to keep just part of their collection, and sell the balance of it,” he said. “Or someone wants to sell a collection to buy something like a car or other high-ticket item.”

For many of us, music can take us back to a specific time in our lives and can quickly trigger strong emotional responses. It’s no different for Grosh.

“I could be playing Fleetwood Mac for example, and I’m right back in my college years again,” he said.

“On days when you need to get up and get going, you’ll put on a song that really gets you moving. On days that you’re feeling down, you might put on something a little mellow. Music can have so much power.”

Artists whose careers have spanned decades often change and evolve as time goes on, and their sound today may be very different from the early days of their careers.

But the way we listen to that music changes and evolves, too. From vinyl albums, 8-track tapes, cassettes, and CDs to digital downloads and the current resurgence in the popularity of vinyl, music is an ever-evolving world.

It’s a world Grosh loves being a part of, and although the format may change, music will always be around for people to enjoy.

“Sometimes I wish I had a crystal ball to figure out what’s next,” he said. “You truly just don’t know — but that’s the fun!”

On the cover: Tom Grosh amongst the 5,000-10,000 music-related items in his collection.

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